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The global PC market is set to emerge stronger from the pandemic than many industry experts expected, a new report from IDC has claimed.

The analyst firm predicts that although the traditional PC market is set to slow slightly as the global chip shortage continues to affect global chains, this will be offset by a continued upward trend in sales for the next few years as sales recover, led mainly by business computer purchases.

IDC now expects "traditional PC" sales to reach 344.7 million units for the whole of 2021, a 13.5% increase on the previous year - even with an expected 3.4% in the final quarter of 2021.

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"The market has pulled past peak pandemic PC demand," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager with IDC's Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. "While we have seen some slowing of consumer demand in certain segments and markets, demand for gaming remains an exception and overall consumer demand is well above pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, the onset of saturation in some education markets is another cause for lower expectations in the coming quarters."

Looking forward, IDC's forecast predicts a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.3%, as after a significant fall in 20222, the market will recover strongly over the next few years.

The company says it expects most of that growth coming from the notebook PC segment as the trend for flexible and remote working continues to remain popular for workers across the world.

However it's not such a rosy outlook for tablet devices, which IDC believes will continue to see a decline in sales as they come under a greater challenge from smartphones and notebook PCs. Sales for tablets are estimated to grow 4.3% over 2021, however Q4 shipments are set to decline 8.6% compared to 2020.

"With on-going supply chain challenges we have seen OEMs prioritizing commercial demand in recent months," said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. "More often than not the commercial dollars are larger and more guaranteed compared to the consumer and education segments. The recent slowdown in the consumer segment is expected to continue into 2022, but in the long run we expect the consumer PC market will have a five-year growth rate similar to the commercial segment."

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.